Transforming Higher Education

Movement Milestones and Victories

We’re working to improve learning and teaching conditions and access to higher education, while standing up to end the trend toward a low-road, corporate-business model for education. More than 50,000 faculty and graduate workers are already united through SEIU Faculty Forward. Every day more educators, students and community members across the country are joining our fight to transform higher education. Here’s a look at what we’ve accomplished together so far.

2017 Victories

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October

Tuft's part-time faculty win huge raises in second contract

After winning a strong first contract, negotiations on a second contract between Tufts University and part-time faculty stalled out when the university failed to come to a fair agreement. Part-time faculty came together with their colleagues and students to organize a strike, but one day before a massive faculty walkout, part-time faculty and university administration reached a tentative agreement. This five-year contract achieves pay increases, improved job security, more paid professional development opportunities and other benefits. 

“This contract would not be possible without the support of students and the community," said Elizabeth Lemons, part-time faculty in Religion at Tufts University said. "The Tufts community submitted over 600 letters to President Monaco. Tufts students rallied and marched in support of a fair faculty contract. By coming together with us, they helped make gains toward fair compensation and just treatment for Tufts part-time faculty.” 

Read More Oct 11, 2017
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September

A "model" agreement for Fordham could change the game with religiously-affiliated employers

Fordham Faculty United has reached an agreement with Fordham University administration for a free and fair union election process! Our agreement should serve as a reminder to all workers about what they can accomplish by standing together. For us, the adjunct and contingent faculty, it will mean we can demand transparency and accountability from the university in our negotiations with the administration," said Fordham adjunct Chris Brandt.


The Fordham agreement may serve as a model for other religiously-affiliated employers who commit to working in good faith to advance the Jesuit tradition of social justice. Hannah Jopling teaches Anthropology at Fordham. She said, “We are pleased that the university recognizes the need to implement socially just employment practices for its dedicated faculty. We hope our campaign can inspire contingent faculty and administrators at other universities to work together for the betterment of the entire community.” 


Fordham University joins other Jesuit colleges and universities such as Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, St. Louis University and other Catholic colleges as institutional leaders committed to their mission, providing high quality education and respecting their campus faculty, staff and other workers.”

Read More Sep 28, 2017
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September

When we fight we win! Siena contingent faculty ratify their 1st contracts

After two years of negotiations with the Siena College administration, the Siena College Contingent Faculty Union/Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United, voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contracts after two days of voting. A wage increase of 37%, $60,000 professional development fund, and adjuncts will now receive the same discounts at the campus bookstore and dining facilities as given to their full-time contingent and tenure-stream colleagues. These are just a few highlights from an amazing first step to improve the lives of adjunct faculty at Siena. 

Core Adjuncts will receive more advanced notice of non-reappointment and non-reappointment must meet the just cause standard. Previously, adjunct faculty at Siena were appointed on a semester-to-semester basis and had no job security or any guarantee of reappointment the following semester.

Read more from SEIU Local 200United Sep 07, 2017
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August

Faculty unions prove why America needs unions

In recent decades, colleges and universities have started behaving more like big businesses and less like institutions for higher learning. High-priced executive administrators hiked tuition, slashed tenure track positions and cut faculty pay, all while pocketing handsome paychecks and spending big on advertising. The result is a rigged system where only a select few gain access to a high-quality education or teaching positions.

Faculty at more than two dozen colleges have won union contracts in the past four years with SEIU. In a victory for workers everywhere, faculty through their unions have changed industry standards on job security, pay, and professional development. Faculty unions like ours have raised standards in #HigherEd. Over 70% of new Faculty Forward contracts include a professional development program. 63% of our first contracts include pay raises of at least 20% for the lowest paid faculty. These are the #FACTS #LaborDay

Share on Facebook Aug 28, 2017
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August

Two major victories at Duke continue to build power on campus

The Fall semester just started at Duke University but there's already good news as a result of workers sticking together in the union movement. After more than a year of organizing by the Duke Graduate Students Union, graduate assistants won an end to hidden $8,000+ continuations fees, which forced many graduate assistants to take on massive debt or leave their programs before completing their degrees. In addition, after three years of organizing by fast food workers, faculty, undergrads, grad assistants, and community members, Duke employees and contract workers won a path to $15/hour by 2019.

These wins come on the tails of a week of action organized by the Duke Graduate Students Union (now Local 27 of Southern Region Workers United SEIU). Committee members used each event to distribute a disorientation "zine", ask graduate students to sign pledge cards, and sign up supporters as dues-paying members. Faculty and graduate assistants at Duke plan to take their momentum on campus into the streets on Labor Day, where they will share their successes and stand up for strong unions with other low wage workers.

Read More Aug 25, 2017
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August

Faculty Forward Congress bring faculty and graduate workers from across the country together

Over 50 incredible faculty and graduate worker activists from across the country who gathered in Washington D.C. for two days of training, networking and planning for the fall semester. It was a time to debrief and gear up for the months ahead. The depth and determination of the people who make up this movement were on display as stories from various campaigns were shared. Lessons were learned and plans for the fall semester were laid out. 

Share on Facebook Aug 11, 2017
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Broward College adjuncts are the 3rd campus in Florida to join our movement

Adjunct Professors at Broward College in South Florida become the second Higher Ed institution in the state where contingent staff organized to file for an election this year with SEIU. We know that a union can mean higher pay and better access to benefits, but the benefits of faculty unions also extend directly to our students’ success.

Read More Jul 28, 2017
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Momentum grows in St. Louis, as community college adjuncts make gains

Part-time faculty at St. Charles Community College won their first contract with SEIU. The four-year agreement increase wages, job stability, and academic freedom. SCCC is the third St. Louis area college to join the Faculty Forward movement. 

“Through this contract, not only will we get pay raises, but we'll also have increased job security, a formal grievance process, and a respected and powerful voice on campus," said Lisa Decarli, a part-time faculty member in the sociology department. "I'm so thrilled to be part of this national movement to make higher education fairer.”

Read More Jul 20, 2017
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July

Significant gains in job stability and pay for Duke faculty

Part-time and full-time contingent faculty at Duke have their first tentative agreement. The groundbreaking three-year agreement is the first faculty union contract at a major private university in the South. It includes increase job stability, new pathways for professional development, and considerable increases in pay, especially for the lowest-paid faculty. 

Duke faculty are the first instructors at a private university in the South to form a union in nearly 30 years. Duke faculty are raising the Faculty Forward torch and will pass it on to contingent faculty in Tennessee and Florida who are in the process of uniting through SEIU. 

Read More Jul 12, 2017
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June

Faculty Forward Massachusetts stands up for adjunct equal pay bill

Building on the success of the Fight for Fifteen’s industry-wide approach to raising working standards and wages, Massachusetts graduate students and faculty have started organizing to raise workplace standards throughout their market. Now they're mobilizing to win gains for adjuncts across the state through innovative proposed legislation that will ensure adjuncts at private colleges and universities receive equal pay for equal work and have greater job stability. Faculty Forward testified at the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Higher Education in favor of the Pay Parity Bill.

Read More Jun 29, 2017
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June

One union for contingent faculty, tenure track, and tenured faculty at Notre Dame de Namur

Faculty at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Ca, have their first contract. It ensures better pay, job security for part-time adjuncts, and protects shared governance. The contract is historic because covers it all contingent faculty, tenure track, and tenured faculty, including department chairs. Faculty won't be split up with separate contracts.

Read More Jun 29, 2017
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May

Northwestern faculty win union in fight against unstable and inconsistent work

In a major victory against the shift from tenure-track positions to more precarious work, nontenure-track faculty at Northwestern University overcame opposition from the administration to unionize. This hard-fought victory gives faculty a say in hiring practices, benefits and their financial security. 

Read More May 26, 2017
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May

St. Catherine's adjuncts are improving higher education for students and faculty

Like many around the country, adjunct faculty at St. Catherine’s University in Minnesota found themselves struggling to balance the demands of teaching with their need to work additional jobs to care for their families. “I love teaching and working with students, but I find that to make a decent living I have to juggle so many other work responsibilities that it is difficult to offer my students the additional attention they and their work require from time to time,” said Peter Morales, an adjunct at the university. To build a better learning and work environment, adjuncts filed for a union election.

Read More May 18, 2017
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May

The graduate worker movement continues to gain momentum in Boston

“Coming together to form a union gives Tufts graduate students a clear way to make sure all of us are compensated and treated fairly,” said Anna Phillips, Ph.D. student in Physics at Tufts. “I am proud of today’s win and looking forward to graduate students having a seat at the table for decisions that impact our ability to do the teaching and research that we love.”

The vote at Tufts represents the second successful graduate student unionization vote at a private institution in the Boston area. Graduate students at Brandeis University voted to join SEIU Local 509 on May 2.

Read More May 18, 2017
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May

Brandeis part-time faculty union wins higher wages, increased job security

Part-time faculty union at Brandeis University won a three-year contract. The new agreement will improve working conditions for members by raising wages, providing greater job security, and providing additional opportunities for professional development. The victory also helps build on a market-wide push to improve standards.

Read More May 04, 2017
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May

In Massachusetts, Brandeis teaching assistants join market-wide movement to raise workplace standards

Graduate student teaching assistants at Brandeis University voted overwhelmingly to form a union. This win builds on regional momentum and follows the formation of unions at Boston University, Tufts, Northeastern, Bentley and Lesley. Brandeis graduate workers are now a portion of the nearly 4,000 faculty and graduate student SEIU members in Massachusetts. This vote also makes them the first TAs at a private Boston institution unionize since the National Labor Relations Board recognized their right to come together. Brandeis graduate student workers now have a seat at the table to negotiate fair working conditions and fight against graduate student exploitation at their school and are helping to raise standards throughout their region.

Read More May 02, 2017
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April

100-plus rally to demand fair wages and benefits for Duke faculty

While Duke's wealthy donors celebrated its $3.25 billion fundraising campaign, the Duke Faculty Union, students, tenured faculty and members of the Durham, N.C., community gathered outside to demand fair working conditions for contingent faculty members.  Duke faculty are calling for fair wages, three-year renewable contracts subject to evaluation, and a benefits package that matches what other faculty members at Duke receive. 

Read More Apr 22, 2017
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April

Faculty march for science

To fight growing anti-intellectual and anti-science sentiment, educators, scientists and community members came together to plan an Earth Day March for Science in Minnesota. Faculty joined with more than 20,000 people to march to and rally at the state’s Capitol. This huge event was just one of hundreds like it globally.

Read More Apr 22, 2017
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April

Momentum for change builds at Saint Martin’s University as more faculty unite

Following the lead of adjuncts and contingent faculty the previous year, tenured and tenure-track faculty and librarians at Saint Martin’s University voted to unionize. This win builds on the momentum of adjuncts and contingent faculty who mobilized for better wages and benefits.

Read More Apr 21, 2017
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April

Adjuncts at the University of South Florida take first step in fight for job security

Struggling with low pay and uncertain work prospects, adjuncts at the University of South Florida filed for a union election.

“It’s not an argument against USF. It’s the whole situation overall,” said Rebecca Skelton, a USF adjunct. “My best year, I made $18,000, and I was teaching at four schools.” This is the first step in bargaining for better wages, more job stability and healthcare benefits.

Read More Apr 21, 2017
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April

Duke graduate workers exercise their rights

In the face of emboldened administrators refusing to recognize graduate assistants’ rights as workers, Duke grad workers are not backing down. Doubling down on the fight for better working conditions, graduate assistants held yoga classes and circulated a petition demanding that doctoral students get access to the gym. Not only did they receive access in response, the administration also announced supplemental work opportunities and improved family leave policies.

Read More Apr 17, 2017
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Adjunct union wins 33 percent wage increase

Saint Louis University adjuncts won a historic first contract, which includes average raises of 33 percent over the next five years and greater job security. “This first contract is significant not just because it creates meaningful improvements in compensation, but it also enables adjunct faculty to have more continuity in their teaching assignments. Up until this point, I always had in the back of my mind the fear that I may not be rehired for the next semester and this uncertainty neither benefited me or my students,” said Jameson Ramirez, an adjunct faculty member. “Winning this contract gains me greater stability, and I know this can only result in a better situation for my students.”

Read More Apr 14, 2017
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Demanding respect, first graduate workers in D.C. unionize

Following an overwhelming vote to unionize, American University graduate workers organizing committee released the following statement:

"We are excited about uniting to establish higher standards, more transparency, better financial security and academic freedom, and above all, respect for our contributions at the university.”

Read More Apr 11, 2017
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April

Faculty rally for right to organize for fair wages, working conditions

Despite a 75 percent increase in tuition and fees since 2005, funding for instruction at Fordham University has declined by 38 percent. Most Fordham professors are forced to work part time for low pay. When nontenure-track faculty came together to form a union that would address these concerns, the administration started stonewalling their efforts through stall tactics. Faculty, students and alumni came together to protest.

Read More Apr 08, 2017
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April

Graduate workers take “College For All” demand to Capitol Hill

American University graduate workers took part in a rousing event on Capitol Hill in support of the College for All Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is part of a national call to restore higher education as a public good.

Read More Apr 04, 2017
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March

Part-time faculty win 23 percent wage increase and professional development fund

After months of hard-fought negotiations with Otis College administrators, faculty won a historic first contract with the college, raising standards for themselves and the students they teach. Faculty won 23 percent wage increases for all Otis College part-time faculty, course cancellation fees, longer job appointments, the establishment of a professional development fund, and language protecting faculty employment while on creative leaves of absence. 

 

Read More Mar 31, 2017
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San Francisco Art Institute adjuncts win health benefits for first time

Adjunct professors ratified their first union contract. The three-year agreement includes substantial improvements in job security, recruitment and retention of quality professors, fair compensation and provides students stability, as their professors now enjoy the prospect of long-term, stable employment. It also includes health benefits for the first time.

  “We are all grateful for the energy and support of so many members of the campus community in this process,” said Carolyn Duffey, bargaining team member and Interdisciplinary Studies Department adjunct faculty member. “We are pleased to go forward in a more equitable and secure environment for students and all faculty members at the school, as we will be able to prioritize the values of teaching and learning at SFAI.”

Read More Mar 30, 2017
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March

On eve of strike, administration agrees to all faculty demands

On the eve of a planned faculty strike at Ithaca College, the administration agreed to all of the faculty’s demands. The tentative agreement included significant pay increases for part-time faculty, more stable appointments for full-time contingent faculty, payment for last-minute course cancellations and more. Through the support of the campus community, faculty won improvements and were able to cancel their strike.

Read More Mar 27, 2017
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March

Contingent faculty stand up against exploitation

At Fordham University in New York City, more than half of faculty are not tenure-track.Contingent faculty organized to collectively to take on this trend toward precarity. 

“Fordham is a prestigious university, yet more than half the faculty have very little job security and adjuncts have no benefits at all,” said Chris Brandt, an adjunct professor. “Prestige is no substitute for a living wage. Faculty need a voice to advocate for better working conditions, which is why we are forming our union. We need to make investment in instruction—and in students—a priority again.”

Read More Mar 20, 2017
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March

Faculty and students voice dissent in act of #CampusResistance

Thousands of students, faculty members, other working people and allies gathered on college and university campuses in a national day of action under the banner of #CampusResistance. From Boston to Seattle and Chicago to Miami, they protested President Trump’s corporate-driven, deeply divisive agenda and united to reclaim institutions of higher education as essential to our communities and our democracy.

Read More Mar 01, 2017
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February

After long fight, California College of the Arts faculty win job improvements

After a 12-hour bargaining session, two and a half years, forty+ bargaining sessions, we finally reached a tentative agreement with California College of the Arts on a first contract covering about 400 adjuncts in San Francisco and Oakland.

Read More Feb 28, 2017
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February

Grad students fighting for fair wages and stability, file for union

At American University, graduate workers are joining contingent faculty at six colleges in the Washington, D.C., area to improve working conditions. Graduate workers filed for a union election.

“American is a great university, yet a huge group of graduate workers lack the pay and stability that would allow us to focus on our research, our students and our futures,” said Cherie Saulter, a Ph.D. student in the School of International Service. “Graduate workers need a voice to advocate for better working conditions, which is why we are standing with thousands of others who are forming unions across the country; together we can push back against the pressures that are squeezing faculty, graduate student workers and the entire academic community.”

Read More Feb 27, 2017
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February

Grad students in Midwest unite for just wages

Facing low wages that make covering basic needs nearly impossible, Loyola University Chicago graduate students overwhelmingly voted to unionize. The vote will give graduate workers the chance to negotiate better working conditions. These graduate student workers are the first to join SEIU and first to win a recognized union at any private university in the Midwest. 

Read More Feb 10, 2017
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January

Educators and students mobilize to #DumpDeVos

Faculty, graduate workers and other allies made tens of thousands of calls, emails and letters urging their senators to vote against confirming Betsy DeVos. Our movement turned up the heat on Trump’s unqualified pick for secretary of Education, forcing an unprecedented tie-breaking vote from the vice president.

Watch Video Jan 26, 2017
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January

Community colleges call on elected officials to invest in public higher education

Across the country, students and faculty are caught between the long-term national trend of education defunding and a short-term political assault of spending cuts, resulting in tuition increases. The Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges held a day of action demanding that elected officials invest in equal access to high quality, affordable public higher education.

Read More Jan 26, 2017
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January

Adjunct faculty speak out about poverty wages on 20/20

Washington University adjuncts, Dustin Iler and Erik Strobl talked to Diane Sawyer about the struggle of underpaid workers across the country.

Read More Jan 13, 2017
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January

Adjuncts at Trinity Washington University win job improvements through first union contract

Adjuncts won significant job improvements in their first contract with Trinity Washington University, including additional benefits, a pay increase and improved job security.

Read More Jan 09, 2017